Today in labor history: “Scab” used for the first time

On this day in 1816 the term “scab” was coined by the Albany Typographical Union in reference to strike breaking. The National Labor Relations Act attempted to make strike breaking illegal. However a Supreme Court decision in 1938 created an opening for replacing workers at the end of a strike and bringing in “permanent replacements” if the union loses majority support.

In British labor history the term scab has its origins in the Elizabethan era.

The use of scabs and lockouts are widely used company tactics in class struggle in the U.S. today. 

Photo: ILGWU workers strike against Elena-Fay Dress shop. The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives in the ILR School at Cornell University is the Catherwood Library.



Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.